With the recent results of the Campbell Memorial award, I looked at the past results of the award in Locus's Awards listing. Browsing around there, I found this table of all awards for 2006 and was struck by what a great list it was. If you ignore horror you have by my count 45 distinct SF and fantasy novels, from all over the anglosphere (the Ditmars -- Australian -- and Auroras -- Canadian -- and BSFA -- British -- are included) for adults, young adults, in all sorts of categories, with first novels from new writers and things from people on the top of their form, works by men, by women, feminist works, libertarian ones, a whole cross-section. It's an exciting list, it's a list that gives a slice of the genre. If you read all forty or so books on it, you'd have a good idea of where the genre was and what was cool about it.
I've said the nominees are more important than the winners, and that's true, but looking at this list of winners made me realize that things nominated but overlooked for one award often won another. There are a lot of terrific books here.
I don't know if anyone does this, but looking back at earlier years when I wasn't reading so much (or maybe even born) it made me want to do that with those lists. They looked like good pictures of where the genre was in that year.
So the things we award are at least partly the way the year will be remembered. And this makes it important to give the awards worthily.